After patiently waiting for more science classes (we don't have science everyday) I am finally able to give you all an update about how whole brain teaching has been going with our Grade 5s.
Compared to my last student teaching placement in the fall I am teaching much less, but spending more time with our group of students. In the fall I was teaching more than one subject (Grades 10-12 for hour long classes) but only had a group of students once per day. In contrast, I am now just teaching one subject (Grade 5 for 25-30 minute classes) but I am with our group of students all day long. I feel as though this makes it a bit more difficult to really establish some of my own routines in the classroom. Last fall I was able to have specific routines established in our class because I only saw the students once per day and they knew that our classroom had a specific set of expectations (the same as any other classroom had). With this placement, however, it is more challenging to establish routines because we are in the classroom all day long and it can be difficult for our students to manage changing expectations throughout the day. I am not comfortable really implementing routines that are different than those that are set up by my cooperating teacher. Now don't get me wrong, my cooperating teacher is so supportive and would assist me with whatever I tried to implement, but it is challenging for the students. Since I am in the classroom all day it is confusing for the students if I expect certain behaviours when I am teaching but allow other behaviours while my cooperating teacher is teaching. With this in mind, I have only implemented some whole brain teaching strategies.
I use "Class-Yes" regularly whenever I am teaching the class. Our students use a similar technique with their french teacher so it was a super easy transition for them to continue using it with me. What I love most about it, besides being able to get their attention quickly and easily, is that they love it too! My cooperating teacher was actually gone for a meeting this afternoon so we had a substitute teacher in the classroom with me (division policy) and as she trying to get their attention after recess we actually had 2-3 students yell out, "Class" and had the students respond, "Yes"! It was so awesome to see them using the techniques themselves to manage the class :)
I have only just introduced "Teach-Ok" to our class so we haven't had a lot of opportunity yet to try it out. They did, however, use it more than once during a lesson about renewable and non-renewable resources. Not only did they use "Teach-Ok" to practice definitions (as is often seen during WBT videos) but they also used it to teach their partner about what they thought was the best resource to use, what might happen once non-renewable resources run out and what they could do to conserve resources. At first they had a difficult time with it. Some of this had to do with being nervous about speaking in front of others, some of it had to do with them not getting along with their partner and some of it had to do with them not listening to the instructions. After a few tries, however, they realized that it was a similar experience to when they contributed during a group discussion and it went smoother. Our next week is all hands-on experiments, building electrical circuits, so there won't be a good opportunity to use "Teach-Ok" but I am hoping to try again once we introduce our review section.
Check out the Whole Brain Teaching website to learn more about any WBT strategy or visit Chris Biffle's YouTube channel to see different strategies in action!